Saturday, 12th December 2009
The shrill blast of a whistle drew the attention of not just Louise and I, but of everyone in King George Square. As we looked for where the whistle was coming from a new noise reached our ears, this time it was the deep rhythmic beat of a drum. Still the multitudes of people in the square were none the wiser as to where the noise had originated. Then a new sound was added to the din, this time it was the cry of a female voice calling out “EVERYONE SAMBA!” Then as if on cue the drums beat louder and the whistle blasted again. This time those looking saw a dance troupe start walking from in front of City Hall to a more central location within King George Square.
By now people in the Queen Street Mall, King George Square and the surrounding streets were coming to see what the commotion was all about. The crowd continued to build as the music beat on and as those in the crowd began to dance even more people stopped to join in. Young and old stood in the square and began dancing along with the bikini clad leader. Photos were taken and ultimately it seemed like people were having a good time. As the crowd grew so did the danger, for the crowd had gotten to the point where they were spilling out onto one of Brisbane’s busiest inner-city roads.
As I watched the events unfolding before me, I thought it would be good to tract the crowd when the show had finished. Turning to my pack I began to get out all my Christmas tracts, as I thought these would work best, since the square was all lit up for the festive season. The only problem was that I was massively outnumbered. In no way could I manage to get tracts to the majority of the crowd. As I thought about this problem, a solution appeared. Crossing King George at this point was Ryan and Alex (not the atheist). Quickly I hurried up to them and gave them each a pack of Christmas tracts and then explained how we would reach the crowd when they dispersed. We were fully expecting the music to come to a stop then people would leave, but to our utter amazement this was not the case. With music still being played the crowd began to walk with the dancing troupe. Quickly we spread ourselves out and began to hand out tracts. It was very easy to get tracts in the hands of the crowd, all we said was “Merry Christmas” and offered them our literature. Within a short space of time nearly 300 Christmas tracts were handed out and then began the one to one conversations.
As normal Ryan had no difficulties in getting into a witnessing encounter, he seems to attract people who wish to talk. As the group surrounded him to discuss Christianity I continued to hand out tracts. Then it came my turn for a conversation.
A young man took a tract then came back a few seconds later and said, “Aren’t you one of the preachers from Queen Street?” I replied in the affirmative and from there a conversation began. He stated that he admired the work we did, even though he disagreed with us in certain areas. The discussion then focused on the areas of disagreement and it was then that he made the statement that on that particular day he had de-converted from Christianity and embraced Judaism. That was something I had to explore further, so I began by asking him if he accepted the New Testament as truth, he replied saying he believed it to be holy and from God. I pointed out to him that as a Jew, he could not accept the New Testament as truth and yet hold onto the Judaic understanding of salvation, for the Bible indicates that Jesus is the Messiah, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Then this man said something strange, he said “I believe that!”
I had not expected this reply from a man who had just de-converted, so I took him to the book of Galatians to show him that if someone has truly turned from their sins and trusted that it is by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that they are saved, then it is foolishness and a curse to put themselves back under the law. It was at this point that the man said, “I have been told not to debate Scripture”. I asked who told him this, and again I did not expect this reply, he said, “The angels and the visions told me not to debate Scripture, they all told me to leave Christianity and become a Jew.” Since, I was in Galatians already I showed him that if any angel preached something other than the Christian gospel, then that angel is damned. For the next 20 or 30 minutes we went back and forth over the biblical gospel. In the end the man seemed to be getting a little frustrated with the fact that I kept God as Sovereign and that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and practice for the Christian.
The man maintained his position on having visions and angels telling him what to do, he also made the claim that he alone possessed a secret knowledge of God. These were all easily countered via the Scripture. Then he made this statement, “I am humble before God, but I must put myself on a pedestal for a time, since the world must know that I am the chosen one!” To which I replied, “I’m sorry, but you have a Messiah complex, the only Chosen One is Christ Jesus, you can’t take His position.” At this the man huffed and walked away.
It was now nearing 2030hrs, so we came together for a time of prayer and bible reading. The night had already been great for evangelism, but it was shaping up to be an interesting night.
As we entered the mall to set up for the night, I got to encounter our second strange person for the night. This man who claimed to be an artist came to me and began to argue that I didn’t know the Bible. The interesting thing was at this stage I hadn’t even used my Bible in the mall. He told me to read a passage of Scripture, so I turned to Colossians 1 and began to read. As the man heard about Christ being the Creator of all, he began to get angry and started to yell at me to stop reading. I refused and kept reading the Scripture. The man then screamed, “IN JESUS NAME I ORDER YOU TO STOP!” Yet, I continued. The man turned and walked away, only to return a few moments later. He came back and said, “Jesus did not create all things on earth, he made the angels and they made things. That was the job of Lucifer.” Again, I opened my Bible and began to read from Colossians 1, which shows that Christ is the Creator of all things, including the angels. Again, the man went nuts at the reading of the Scripture. He then told me that God was speaking though him and that I was to read Matthew 24. I turned there and asked, “Where should I start reading?” The man gave me a verse then said, “That is what God would say to you!” I agreed that God speaks through his word, but that is not the same as God speaking through him. The man then made some really non-sense arguments. But, it kept coming back to the fact, that he did not believe Christ was God, nor was He the Creator. I pointed to the tree standing in the mall, and said, “That there is proof of the Creator God.” The man disagreed and said, “God created himself! The earth created the tree!” I asked him, “How could God create Himself? The mere fact He can create shows that He must be pre-existent”. The man had no reply. I pushed him on if the tree was created by God, the man said, “No, the earth made the tree, God made everything!” I pointed at the tree and said, “Is that apart of everything?” The man nodded, I continued, “So, God must have made that tree, since God made everything?”
At this the man launched into a demonic tongue and began to pronounce curses upon us. He denied that Jesus was come in the flesh and that God was not eternal. I rebuked him from the Scripture, stating that he had the spirit of antichrist and was an enemy of God. The man walked off, but hung around all night. Constantly being a harassment to the team. This behaviour even resulted in Wayne the Agnostic to comment on how the night seemed to be more strange than usual.
Since we were light on preachers tonight, we decided to let Alex (not the atheist) preach first. It was his first time up, so we thought it best to let him have a go, before the crowd got too hostile. He did a great job of preaching. His voice was clear and even, and when the hecklers arose he did a splendid job of countering their objections in both a biblical and logical manner. Towards the end of his open air a couple of hecklers opened up fairly hard on him, and at one point it looked like he may lose control of the crowd, so I tagged in and took over.
The question that was presented by one of the hecklers was the issue of the Bible and the perceived inconsistency within local churches. He maintained that the Bible ordered all women to cover their heads in church, yet no one does it. So I read him the Scripture and was able to counter his argument. This then spawned into a women debate, the agnostics claimed that Christianity suppress women and order them to be silent in the church. I argued that the Scripture teaches that men and women are equal, however, within this equality there is different roles. I then showed him from the Bible how a female is not allowed to preach / teach in the church and how that is a male only function. But, I stressed that it was in no ways declaring a woman lesser than a man. I then swung it back to the gospel and how we are all equal before God as sinners.
For about an hour I debated and reasoned with the crowd. I had heckles from atheists, agnostics, Roman Catholics, Satanists and the like. Each time I would try to answer their questions and preach the gospel. At the end a young Roman Catholic lady came up to me and thanked me for my preaching. Even though she disagreed with what we said, it had made her think. Please pray for her.
Ryan by now was preaching and as the night got later the crowds got bigger and more hostile. While Ryan was preaching within the space of a few minutes there were two fights. The interesting thing was that it centred around one foul mouthed atheist who claimed to have all the answers. First fight erupted when a bunch of Maori got annoyed at him for his “know it all” attitude so they walked up and pushed him in the face. I jumped in and told the group to clear off. It was then that one of them turned on me and said he would punch my face in. I told him to step up and try if he wished, but it wouldn’t look good for him to punch a preacher. The others at this stage dragged him away.
Then a few minutes later an Irishman smacked the atheist once again because of his “know it all” attitude. Like before I was forced to jump between them and this time I cleared the atheist off. He was claiming victory because the preacher couldn’t answer him. I pointed out that the only victory he had was not being seriously injured by some drunk who wanted to punch him out. The man didn’t care and he stayed around for some time. Later on in the night Ryan engaged this man in a one to one and systematically dismantled his arguments.
Finally a young man who had been there all night heckling got moved on by police because of his foul and abusive language. It was turning out to be a rather hostile and strange night. So much for this being the season to be jolly!
At the close of the night, I was approached by a young guy who wanted to talk about the gospel. His friend however did not. He did everything to disrupt the conversation, but I persisted in talking to this one young guy. As I spoke to him you could see him come under conviction and he believed that I was telling the truth. He took an in-depth gospel tract and left. One of the agnostics saw this conversation and he remarked to Louise in a serious tone, “It looks like someone is about to be converted from darkness to Christianity.” I find it interesting that the agnostic knew that those without Christ are in darkness.
This Christmas, are you in darkness or are you in the light? Have you seen the need of the Saviour? Have you realized that your sin is against God? If so, you must repent (turn from your sins) and trust that it is by Jesus dying on the cross and rising again that you can be saved. Would you do that today? Look to Jesus Christ and live.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.
Brisbane Team (Day) (QLD)
Meets Wednesday afternoons 1-5pm in King George Square (near Adelaide St crossing).
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.